I have a face. I figured this out today. I was asking one my students– truly a great kid, smile like a million stars, gentle lovely sense of humor, and no work ethic whatsoever– to find some deeply necessary notes from our last class. I kept my voice low, friendly, but firm, and thought I was managing well, until I found myself really noticing what my mouth and eyes were doing at the same time.
Eyes: slightly widened and held taut in that shape, rather like hard-boiled eggs. Mouth: molded into one, continuous, thin line by pulling in most of the lips between the teeth.
And I said to myself: what the hell was that?
Well, according to some inferences I draw from the SAGE Handbook of Communication (2006), this was my Silly Putty attempt to convey connection, power, inclusion and disapproval all at once. Great stuff. Next time I think I’ll try Spanish, Urdu and Klingon in the same sentence.
From the New York Times, 2006:
Anthropologist Ray Birdwhistell pioneered the original study of nonverbal communication-what he called “kinesics.” Birdwhistell made some similar estimates of the amount of nonverbal communication that takes place between humans. He estimated that the average person actually speaks words for a total of about ten or eleven minutes a day and that the average sentence takes only about 2.5 seconds. Birdwhistell also estimated we can make and recognize around 250,000 facial expressions.
Like Mehrabian, he found that the verbal component of a face-to-face conversation is less than 35 percent and that over 65 percent of communication is done nonverbally.
I’ve got some bodily awareness to sharpen up, friends. Do you?
And by the way, what does this mean when it comes to the supplantation of face-to-face communication with that Facebook-thingy I’m messing around with now? (Doubt me? Read this.)